The history of gravel racing - cycling's newest trend is older than it looks

With global coverage, oversubscribed lotteries, huge turn outs, big prize purses and superstar names riding for both money and kicks, it’s safe to say gravel racing has landed. But how did we get here?

Paris Roubaix 1937
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At this year’s Unbound Gravel, 4,000 cyclists took to the start line to race across the famed Flint Hills of Kansas, with event distances ranging from 50 to 350 miles. 

The 200-miler marquee event is also part of the Life Time Grand Prix Series, a seven-race series with a $250,000 prize purse contested by 70 handpicked professionals, including ex-WorldTour riders such as Peter Stetina, Alexey Vermeulen, Alex Howes, Kiel Reijnen, Lachlan Morton, Ruth Winder and Emily Newsom.

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Freelance writer

Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for twenty five years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He has been a cycling enthusiast from an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a keen follower of bike racing to this day as well as a regular road and gravel rider. 

With contributions from